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Collaborative Health Care: How Nurses Work in Team-Based Settings

By ANA Staff—January 2016

Fewer falls, shorter stays and more morning discharges: These are just a few of the results nurses at Aurora West Allis Medical Center in West Allis, Wisconsin, said they saw after the facility instituted a nurse-physician collaboration model.

A report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation explains that Aurora West Allis cut fall rates in half after instituting a collaborative care model in which nurses and physicians worked more closely together. Length of stay was reduced by 0.6 days, and discharges before noon went from 10 percent to 30 percent. “Fall prevention was no longer the ‘nurses’ job,’ and could be shared by all the professionals working on the team,” the report says.

Impressive positive results like those seen at Aurora West Allis are helping to encourage more health care providers to consider this model for their own staffs, and that can be a good thing for nurses. Nurses who work in collaborative settings can work to their full scope of practice and raise the profile of nurses in the industry.

What Is Collaborative Care?

ANA’s newly released Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice defines interprofessional collaboration as:

Integrated enactment of knowledge, skills, and values and attitudes that define working together across the professions, with other health care workers, and with patients, along with families and communities, as appropriate to improve health outcomes.

 According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, some of the hallmarks of a interprofessional collaboration include:

  • Putting patients first.
  • A commitment from leadership to make interprofessional collaboration an organizational priority.
  • A level playing field that values contributions from all practitioners working at “the top of their license.”
  • Effective team communication.

“This type of collaboration requires a culture that promotes shared accountability in providing care sharply focused on meeting the health needs of the patient,” says Linda Cassidy, MSN, MEd, RN, CCNS, clinical practice specialist at the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. “Collaborative health care is a committed partnership that strives for excellence in patient care and outcomes.”

Nurses in particular can thrive in collaborative care models. “We’re great team workers because we’re reliable, task-oriented and project-oriented,” says Susan Alexander, DNP, ANP-BC, ADM-BC, clinical associate professor and doctor of nursing practice coordinator at the College of Nursing, University of Alabama in Huntsville. “We’re going to get it done.”

Goals of Collaborative Care

While collaborative care focuses on obtaining interprofessional input, it also aims to get different specialties— such as mental or behavioral health, public health, physical therapy or nutrition — to work together.

“Health care has become increasingly complex,” Cassidy says. “Effective collaborative health care is synergistic, efficient and contributes to care that encourages joint participation of all team members with patients and families.” Results include improved quality outcomes, patient experience, patient safety and use of resources.

Best of all, collaborative health care acknowledges the expertise and contribution of all members of the health care team and provides meaningful recognition to them, Cassidy says.

The Nurse’s Role in a Team-Based Setting

Nursing is the only clinical profession whose members are trained to understand the roles of other care providers, says Louise Weadock, MPH, RN, CEO of Access Nursing. The nurse’s ability to comprehensively assess the patient’s clinical, emotional and social situation and draw upon the available resources to create a patient-centric care plan can help in playing an important part in collaborative care.

The training nurses get sets them up to be effective players in a collaborative care environment, Weadock says. Their adaptability, empathy, communication skills and commitment to follow through on care make them strong leaders on a care team and key team players. For example, nurses can draw upon their training in communication, as it’s critical to collaborative care, Weadock says, whether it’s verbal, written or electronic.

“We can’t work in silos any longer,” Alexander says. “Credentials are important, but they don’t create leaders and they don’t necessarily foster collaboration.”

As 24/7 providers of patient care in hospitals, nurses have a unique view of how care is provided, Cassidy says. “Nurses can lead the way by being role models in honest and open dialogue with team members about the effectiveness and quality of the patient care and the health of the work environment.”

ANA offers several courses that teach nurses how to build partnerships across departments and specialties to work better together at the full scope and standards of nursing practice.

4 Health Care Trends That Will Affect American Nurses

By ANA Career Center staff — November 2015

As baby boomers age and the number of people entering the health care system increases, nursing will become increasingly more complex, and nurses will be expected to do more with fewer resources than ever before. At the same time, health care facilities around the country will face a shortage of nurses as older employees retire, and technology will start to play a bigger role in providing patient care.

As we approach the end of 2015, we wanted to take a look at the health care trends that will affect American nurses in 2016 and beyond. Read on to learn more about four that stand out.

Nursing Shortages Offer Opportunities

One of the biggest challenges the industry faces is the massive wave of retirement breaking around the country. More than half of working nurses are over 50, which means there will be a lot of empty positions to fill in the coming years as they retire, says Susan Yox, EdD, RN, director of editorial content at Medscape. 

At the same time, millennials, or those born approximately between 1982 and 2000, are going to make up the majority of the workforce within the next two decades, filling many of the jobs retiring nurses are going to leave behind. This new group of nurses is going to be more ethnically diverse and tech-savvy than the group preceding it, which will be an advantage for the younger group.

“There’s this whole demographic change in the country,” says Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, chief executive officer of the National League for Nursing. “We have to prepare for different cultures, religions and languages.”  

Job Opportunities Expand Outside the Hospital

Traditionally, nurses seek employment in hospitals, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act and a growing desire for older people to stay in their homes as long as possible, nurses will play a much bigger role in communities outside hospitals and other health care facilities.

Hospitals are opening up separate facilities, such as assisted living and rehab centers, Malone says. “Schools are going to have to make sure all the programs have an opportunity for the student to have community experience and understand how to work within a community.” And employment opportunities for nurses won’t just be in hospital settings. “We are going to need nurses in chronic care, geriatrics, palliative and hospice care. The education programs are going to have to prepare nurses for a variety of roles.”

Care coordination has long been part of a nurse’s job description, but with the overhaul of the nation’s health care system fully underway, a nurse’s role in overseeing patient care is only going to increase. After all, care coordination is seen as a way to fix some of the nation’s health care problems, including high costs, uneven quality and disappointing outcomes. And the value of nurses in care coordination roles has already been demonstrated by a reduction in emergency department visits, decreases in medical costs and, most importantly, a significant increase in survival rates with fewer readmissions.

Nurses will continue to play an integral role in making sure the patient’s needs and preferences are met and at the same time ensuring the correct care is being delivered and that the family and patient leave the hospital fully aware of what he or she needs to recover and stay healthy. 

Technology Will Play a Larger Role

Nurses are already using technology in the workplace, but advances will require nurses to become even more tech-savvy and able to learn to use new tools as they’re introduced into health care facilities.

And it will start in training. Malone says more and more nurses will be exposed to simulators in school settings so they can practice before seeing a real patient face-to-face. For instance, simulations can be implemented in cardiac surgery training or in stations to give nurses practice with cases like septic shock or acute respiratory distress syndrome. The simulations will also be used to assess nursing students’ skills.

However, this shift won’t stop with training.  The adoption of electronic health records has driven dramatic change in the health care industry.  Increasingly, EHR systems are going mobile, which means nurses will be able to pull up records at the point of care rather than back at the nursing station.  Data is also becoming increasingly important to health care facilities of all sizes, driven by the ease with which written and oral communications can be digitized.

Nurses Will Collaborate More With Other Health Care Providers

One of the byproducts of the Affordable Care Act is that the way hospitals get paid for services is changing, with hospital reimbursements based more on how the patient flows through the episode, says Peggy Crabtree, MBA, RN, vice president of The Camden Group. As a result, nurses will have a bigger say in how care is provided to their patients. That change will offer more opportunities for nurses to collaborate with doctors to ensure the patient is getting the best care — and at the same time, make certain money and resources aren’t being wasted. It’s a natural extension for nurses, who know more than anyone where the waste is happening and what is and isn’t working for patients, Crabtree says.

When provider shortages occur, nurses are going to play a larger role in making sure patients take care of themselves after they are released from the hospital or another health care facility. Because chronic diseases are costing the nation a fortune, nurses increasingly will be tasked with making sure patients stay healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic diseases were responsible for 7 of 10 deaths in 2010, and treating people with chronic diseases accounted for 86 percent of the nation’s health care costs.

4 Ways to Get Your Nursing Job Search Off to a Great Start

By ANA Career Center staff — September 2015

For new nursing graduates or students who will be out of school soon, finding a job may seem overwhelming, even as the demand for nurses remains high. You need to create a polished resume, watch job listings, and get out and network. Luckily, there are plenty of resources new nurses can turn to as they seek employment.

Start at Your School’s Career Center

Your school’s career center is a great place to launch the search for your first nursing job. Schools often get word of new nursing jobs in the area and usually have a team of counselors standing by to provide you with one-on-one help with your resume and job search.
Erin Farney, BSN, RN, who now works at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis, used the career resource center at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College extensively when she was looking for her residency and as a result was one of the few applicants to get into the critical care area of the Graduate Advancement Program in Pediatrics at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona.
Farney wanted a program that provided extensive classroom and clinical training to prepare her to work confidently in a pediatric ICU setting. Instead of throwing together a resume and applying to any and every job, she worked with school counselors to craft a resume that included the right keywords. She researched different programs and reached out directly to the educators at hospitals she thought would be the best fit. “Graduates need to spend the time on the resume and work with someone who specializes in nursing,” she says. “I did a lot of homework with my career search.”

Take Advantage of Professional Organizations

Nursing professional organizations specialize in boosting the profession and offer a lot of job search resources for nurses at all stages of their careers. For example, the American Nurses Association’s Career Center has an extensive database of nationwide nursing jobs, allows you to upload your resume so employers can find it and lets you sign up for job alerts. The ANA also has a free Welcome to the Profession Kit that’s full of great advice designed to help new nurses find their first job and get their nursing careers off to a good start.
If you’re interested in getting a job in a nursing specialty, most have their own professional organizations, which also offer job search resources. And your state or local nursing organization is another great resource.

Get Busy Networking

In a job search, who you know can be almost as important as what you know. “Networking always helps because nurses are very fond of referring a friend,” says Patricia Sweeney, human resources manager at Old Colony Hospice and Palliative Care in Randolph, Massachusetts. “For all intents and purposes, it’s a small community, so networking is huge.”
For a new or soon-to-be nurse, that means taking advantage of social media networks to make connections and stay in touch online, and joining online nursing groups and nursing organizations that host in-person events. It also means attending those events whenever you can. Basically, get out there and meet other nurses.

Apply to Hospital Jobs

Nursing jobs are available in all sorts of health care settings, including surgery centers, wellness clinics and assisted living facilities, and there are a host of areas graduates can specialize in. But a great way to determine what type of nursing you like best is to start out in a hospital.
“Working in a hospital when a nurse first comes out of school is the best course because it gives them a sense of what it’s like working on the floor,” says Janet Elkin, president and CEO of workplace staffing company Supplemental Health Care in Park City, Utah. “It is experience they can never take away and you have it on your resume.”

Teaching Is a Great Way for Nurses to Take on New Challenges

By ANA Career Center staff — July 2015

Mary Bondmass, PhD, RN, director of faculty development for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, has been teaching nursing at the university level for almost 20 years, but says she really became a teacher the day she became a nurse. “What is a nurse other than a teacher? I started my career in education teaching patients and precepting other nurses.”

Bondmass says she believes a great way to begin a career in nursing education is to volunteer to precept new nurses. At some point in their careers, almost all nurses find themselves mentoring new hires and students, but with the AACN reporting a full-time faculty vacancy rate of 6.9 percent in 2014, there is a need for nurses to step up to the plate and take on the challenge of educating the next generation.

Doing this can be an interesting, fulfilling challenge for experienced nurses. If you’re looking for opportunities outside of basic nursing practice, teaching may be a good option for you.

The Nursing Profession Needs Teachers

Candice Zizilas, MHA, BSN, ARNP, director of clinical sales for global pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, never thought she’d go back to school after earning her original nursing degree, but is now working on her doctor of nursing practice degree. After spending years as both a bedside nurse and a pharmaceutical sales representative, Zizilas kept noticing a demand for experienced nurses to educate the next generation of nursing professionals.

“So many nurses get locked into bedside nursing and they don’t see all of the opportunities for nurse educators,” she said. “Nurses don’t just educate patients at the bedside; they can work as educators in so many different capacities. A nurse can educate patients on behalf of managed care companies or teach physicians how to use a new piece of medical equipment.”

Teaching in nursing also affords a better understanding of the complex health care environment, Zizilas says. “You become more well-rounded and see the big picture. You understand how all of the complicated components of health care, like managed care, health care administrators and providers, work together.”

How to Find Teaching Opportunities for Nurses

Professional organizations often offer opportunities for nurses to get involved with teaching. For example the American Nurses Credentialing Center is always looking for subject matter experts to help develop and lead educational programs for nurses. You can put your name on its Subject Matter Expert Registry to be considered for a variety of teaching opportunities.  American Nurses Association also taps nurses to lead Navigate Nursing webinars, create CE modules and present at conferences such as the 2016 American Nurses Association conference focusing on quality and staffing. And as a bonus, some of these opportunities pay.
Online job banks are a rich repository for nursing jobs that involve or focus solely on teaching, and many — like the ANA Career Center —  include job listings from across the U.S. Try searching for “education”, “teaching”, “instructor” or “faculty” to see what kinds of opportunities are available and learn more about what qualifications employers are looking for.

Opportunities Abound for College-Level Nursing Educators

For those who want to become clinical instructors at a college or university level, the suggested minimum credential is a master’s degree in nursing, and nursing faculty in a classroom setting should have a doctorate degree, Bondmass says. “The doctorate of nurse practitioner is the degree of the future. Nurses just starting their education journey might consider a BSN to a DNP program.”

College and university nursing faculty positions are plentiful due to a shortage of qualified nursing instructors. According to the 2012-2013 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing report, nearly 66 percent of nursing schools were forced to turn away qualified students due to a faculty shortage, leaving almost 80,000 qualified applicants without a nursing program. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting the need for RNs to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, an adequate number of qualified faculty must be available.

Teaching not only offers nurses another job opportunity, it can also provide personal satisfaction from helping to educate the next generation of nurses. “Teaching others to be nurses is important work,” Bondmass said. “It is extremely rewarding when you see the lights come on in a student’s mind. Watching them grow is extremely rewarding.”

Wearable Technology for Nurses

By ANA Career Center staff – June 2015

Wearable technologies have the potential to make a major difference in the lives of patients and in the way nurses and other health care providers do their jobs — but the future isn’t here yet. “As far as wearable tech is concerned in nursing, we’re on the precipice,” says Brittney Wilson, BSN, RN, a community manager at Next Wave Connect who also blogs about technology and nursing at The Nerdy Nurse. While surgeons and other doctors have incorporated devices such as Google Glass into routine care, nurses have some barriers to cross, Wilson says.

And while devices such as the iWatch, Fitbit, Jawbone and others provide new opportunities for people to manage their own health care, adoption is moving slowly. According to a PwC report on wearable technology, only one in five adults owns a wearable, and only one out of 10 uses it every day. Wearables in the workplace may face an even slower adoption rate. Still, nurses should be aware of the changes wearable technology may bring to their work in the coming years.

What’s Possible?

Wearable tech has a lot of promise in health care environments, says Bill Balderaz, president of Fathom Healthcare. “Imagine nurses getting alerts on an Apple Watch to say what patient receives what medication at what time,” he says, rather than having to look at a chart or a computer.

You might also receive a text when a patient is showing signs of infection but doesn’t yet feel sick, says Paul Wetter, chairman of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons. Or you could receive a text alerting you that a patient is approaching becoming anemic because her sensors are picking up signs of tachycardia.

Vascular surgeon David Gruener says he uses some wearable technologies, such as a GoPro camera or Google Glass, during some procedures as an educational tool, but acknowledges that patient confidentiality is a concern. He says his colleagues also commonly use Bluetooth earpieces, but he doesn’t use one himself. “They allow intraoperative consults with other providers but can distract from the task at hand that may need your full attention.”

These devices will be used differently depending on who supplies them, Wilson says. In a clinical setting, they will either belong to providers and be approved by the employer, or the employer will supply them. “As these devices get smarter and look more like phones, nurses will have to educate employers about how they’re not a distraction,” she says.

A Risk of Data Overload

Caregivers typically check a patient’s pulse and temperature every four to six hours, or if the patient complains of symptoms, Wetter says. “Imagine when pulse and temperature are being checked every second on millions of patients, allowing the supercomputer in their pockets to bring accurate, predictive results. Imagine your watch bringing you results in seconds. This is coming very soon.”

Automatically gathering these sorts of metrics throughout the day can keep nurses and other providers better informed about what’s going on, says endocrinologist Florence Comite, but the amount of data can be overwhelming. “In my estimation, the biggest challenge is that the data recorded by wearable tech lacks integrated interpretation. It will take time, education and experience to figure out how physicians and nurses can utilize and interpret isolated bits and bytes.”

Data privacy can also be an issue, Comite says. “When data is stored in the cloud, how secure is it? Questions about the accuracy and privacy of the health data that is collected, who owns it, what are the appropriate measures to protect it and how it should be used have yet to be answered.”

Wilson describes herself as a big nursing technology advocate and says all technology can empower nurses. She stresses, though, that it’s all in the delivery. When computers were introduced at the bedside, she says patients would ask her why she paid attention to the computer and not to them. “I always explained the benefit, such as ‘It’s important I document this information.’ ” When nurses use wearable technologies, they will need to incorporate it into their care while still making a connection with their patients.

Wearables for Nurses Themselves

Wearable technologies could even monitor caregivers as they work. With fatigue being a major concern for nurses, Balderaz says wearables could be programmed to create an alert when a provider is showing signs of fatigue. The device could test for fatigue though a game or app that measures reaction time or cognitive skills, or monitors biological data.

Wilson says that while nurses often say they walk miles a day, step-trackers can show them how far they’ve actually gone. It can be empowering, she says, for nurses to find out that they really have walked 5 miles on a shift.

Beyond the Hospital: Where Nurses Are Needed to Care for Our Aging Population

By ANA Career Center Staff – May 2015

As the U.S. population ages and the need for health care grows, providers expect to face a shortage of nurses. The number of jobs that provide services for the elderly and people with disabilities grew 70 percent from 2010 to 2013, according to a report by CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects more than a million job openings for nurses by 2022.

Where will these openings be? Many will be in hospitals, but elder care providers such as nursing homes, home health providers and other services will also need nurses to help care for the aging population. Nurses in those settings will need specialized skills, says Joan Dacher, Ph.D., RN, GN, and professor of nursing at The Sage Colleges. They will need to know about the the biological and psychological changes of aging, the complexities of caring for individuals with multiple co-morbidities, managing complex medication regimes and other geriatric health issues, she says.

Here is an overview of the opportunities available to nurses who are interested in working with older populations.

Home Care Services

RNs and BSNs can earn certification as a Care Manager, Certified or Certified Case Manager and become a certified geriatric care manager, says Karen Campbell, CMC, founder of Innovative Aging LLC. Geriatric care managers work with clients and families to help find the best care plan possible, helping families make difficult decisions about their loved ones’ care. Geriatric care managers may work with existing home health agencies or open their own consultancy.

Home health nurses and home care services help older people “age in place,” providing care to seniors outside of nursing homes so they can continue living in their own homes longer.  Tiffany Willis, LPN and marketing representative for Sitters Etc., says her company staffs LPNs and RNs as caregivers for older people, working with seniors, dementia patients and surgery rehab patients who need daily nursing care at home, she says.

Nurses who have specialized training in gerontological issues can play a key role in transitional settings such as home health. For example, according to an article published in Home Healthcare Nurse, nurses are “pivotal” when it comes to identifying and managing medication discrepancies in settings such as home health.

Rehabilitation Centers

Specialized rehabilitation centers can help older people recover from injuries they may get from falls or other accidents. Nurses who work in these centers provide rehab services and ongoing care. The Association of Rehabilitation Nurses says that the role of a rehab nurse in this kind of setting is to be aware of and compensate for normal age-related changes and limitations when putting together a rehab plan due to illness or injury.

These centers may also employ nurses to help complete federally mandated Minimum Data Set paperwork, Campbell says.

Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities provide a homelike atmosphere for older people who aren’t able to live in their own home but also don’t need a nursing home. According to the American Assisted Living Nurses Association, the scope and standard for assisted living nursing is relatively new. It says the assisted living nurse is an “even more autonomous decision maker and manager of care and systems as compared to the acute care nurse.” In this setting, according to the standards, the nurse’s role is to promote physical, mental and social abilities and to reduce risk of infection, trauma and mistreatment, as well as to work for policies that promote respect and value for seniors in the health care system.

Charge nurses in these positions are responsible for overseeing and managing patient medications and monitoring any changes in medical conditions, says Annie Zell, health services administrator at Emerald Heights Corwin Center. Charge nurses also coordinate and plan care for residents and analyze care plans to help residents meet individual goals, she says. Finally, nurse practitioners may also serve as the primary care provider for residents in these settings.

Hospice Care

Nurses in hospice settings may work with other health care professionals to provide care and support to patients facing terminal illness. Nurses’ training in compassionate caregiving makes them vital members of the hospice team, helping to manage pain and symptoms, as well as providing emotional support for patients and their families. In addition, they must continue their education and be aware of ethical and legal implications that can come with end-of-life care.

After working in many different areas of nursing for 25 years, Judy Flickinger, RN, says she found her favorite job when she became a hospice nurse. “Hospice nurses give so much of themselves but also get much in return,” she says. “I went into nursing for the joy of bedside nursing, and hospice provided that opportunity.” Now retired, she volunteers in the home of hospice patients.

Professional Networking for Nurses

By ANA Career Center Staff – April 2015

Matthew Howard, MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, CPN, had just started his career as an emergency room nurse when he decided to try his hand at networking. He went to a local Emergency Nurses Association meeting and was quickly elected treasurer of the chapter. He continued to advance within the association and began attending national events where he had the opportunity to meet the ENA president. Less than a month later, Howard had become the ENA liaison to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 “You don’t get chances like that without going to those kinds of events,” says Howard, now director of educational resources for Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. “Networking gives you a chance to become part of the nursing profession and not just a bystander.” 

The Importance of Networking

The opportunities that can present themselves through networking are limitless, says Angie Charlet, MHA, BSN, RN, director of quality and educational services for the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network. “It lets nurses get involved and become engaged. There is so much value in a face-to-face interaction. You really get a sense of someone’s energy. You meet like-minded people with the same struggles and ambitions, and gain insight into how nursing is changing.”

The most important advantage of building a professional network is the opportunities it can bring for career advancement. “I always love to receive a resume from a nurse I’ve met through a professional society,” Charlet says. “I like seeing a personalized cover letter that says, ‘I met you at XYZ meeting and I look forward to hearing from you.’”

Getting Started

For novice networkers, starting local is usually the easiest route. When Phyllis Kupsick, MSN, BSN, RN, FNP-BC, CWOCN, president of the Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society, graduated from her nursing program, her instructor told her, “I gave you the basic knowledge. It is now up to you to learn more by working with your peers.”

She quickly joined her state association. “New grads should definitely join their state organization and go to the meetings,” Kupsick says. “You make contacts, and the organization will keep you up-to-date on legislation and education practices.”

The American Nurses Association (ANA) constituent and state nurses associations offer opportunities for nurses around the country to get involved close to home. Also, there are many groups dedicated to specific nursing specialties that are open to those working in specialized care.

Joining committees and networking within your hospital system can help with career advancement as well as help solve patient care problems. Kupsick served on her hospital's product review and standardization committee, where she gained important contacts and helped find solutions to wound care problems her facility was facing. “Committees can really help nurses see how their peers took a different approach to solving a patient care problem,” she says.

Attend Conferences

National Nurses in Business Association President Michelle Podlesni, RN, is planning the organization’s annual conference, scheduled for this fall in Las Vegas. “When you go to a conference, you really see the value,” she says. “You meet someone who is further down the road you want to walk, and they’re accessible. You can actually talk to them.”

Podlesni does caution that it’s best for nurses to shop around to find the right conference to meet their needs before investing in attending. “It is amazing,” she says. “You find the right group of people and put them in an inclusive and accepting environment, and their attendance provides them a lot of opportunity.”

In addition to helping grow your professional network and making lifelong friends, attending conferences can also give nurses a chance to break away from the stress of their everyday work. “We work hard while we are at our conference, but I like to keep things fun. Nurses tell me all the time what a great time they have at our events,” Podlesni says. 

Anatomy of an Excellent Nursing Resume

By ANA Career Center Staff – March 2015

Whether you’re just beginning your career or are a seasoned veteran, a well-structured nursing resume will help you gain an advantage over applicants who don’t put as much time and effort into effectively marketing themselves. An excellent nursing resume showcases your education, career progression, professional skills and significant experiences.

For maximum impact, you’ll want to break down that information into easy-to-read sections. Here’s what recruiters and hiring managers need to see.

Contact Information and Credentials

Your contact information will be the first thing to catch a recruiter or hiring manager’s eye. Make sure you put your credentials and certifications behind your name. Are you an RN or an LPN? Do you have a critical care certification or an MHA? Don’t make people have to work too hard to find out.

Be sure to include a phone number and a professional email address. might be a long-standing inside joke among your friends, but it could also make a prospective employer doubt your professionalism.

Also, make sure the name on your resume matches the name on your nursing license to prevent any confusion. 

Objective Statement

A strong objective statement lets employers know the type of position you’re hoping to secure.  “A concise objective is great to have, especially when someone is looking to change careers. I need to know if the position I am filling is something an applicant would want to do,” says Janice Seidenfrau, a recruiting specialist for InVentiv Health.

When writing your objective, keep it concise and steer clear of vague language, such as “patient-focused nurse.” Instead use quantifiable statements and powerful action verbs, such as “charge nurse with 10-years experience leading a maternity ward team of 15 to 20.”

Professional Experience

Your professional experience section is the heart of your resume. This is where you tell the story of your nursing journey, typically by listing jobs in reverse chronological order with the most recent at the top. When listing the places you’ve worked, give a description of the facility, unit and type of nursing you did.

This kind of information is important to health care facilities looking to hire nurses because if they know you’ve worked at a similar facility, you might be a good fit for the position, says Jace Nelson, a senior recruiter at Aya Healthcare. Detail the number and the types of patients you cared for per shift. Make sure you also include the duties you performed in addition to direct patient care. Did you serve as a charge nurse, help train new hires or serve on a quality assurance board?

For an experienced nurse, an effective resume will demonstrate increasing responsibilities with increasing experience. If you’re a new nurse, include details about your clinical rotations as well as information about any other paid and volunteer work experience.

“I am attracted to new nurse resumes that have service industry experience,” says Keith Kaiser, nurse manager at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who frequently hires new nurses.” This means the applicant has patience, can deal with people and is used to shift work.”

Skills and Certifications

In your skills and certification section, detail all your accreditations and expiration dates, equipment you’re comfortable operating, and relevant computer skills including charting systems used and the number of years you used them.


Your education section should include all professional degrees you’ve earned, with the institution’s name, city and state, and the dates you attended. For degrees in progress, include your projected completion date.

Mind the Details

Once you have all the essential information in place, go back and proofread it before you send it on to any prospective employers. “Make sure your resume is clean, easy to read and bulleted,” Seidenfrau says. With auto-correct and spell-check software, many medical terms get changed to more common words. For example, the “neuro” unit you’ve been working on could become the “moron” unit.

Another little thing that will make the recruiter’s life a little easier and set you apart from most candidates: When you save your resume, don’t call the file “myresume.doc”. Instead, export the file to PDF and use your name and date in the file, like this: “JohnDoeRNresumeMarch2015.pdf”.

 “This shows the resume is up to date and that the applicant is detail oriented,” Seidenfrau says.

5 Considerations for Nurses Facing Ethical Challenges on the Job

By ANA Career Center Staff – February 2015

The American Nurses Association has declared 2015 to be the Year of Ethics and recently released a new edition of its Code of Ethics for Nurses, so now is the perfect time for nurses to re-examine the essential role ethics plays in the nursing profession. Nurses face ethical decisions every day, and having a strong ethical foundation is a key part in succeeding in their careers. Still, even the best nurses may find times when they find themselves struggling with ethical challenges on the job. 

Here are five considerations for nurses who find themselves facing ethical challenges.

Know yourself

It’s important to have a strong sense of personal ethics to build on in your profession. “Knowing who you are and what you stand for personally and professionally provides a foundation to speak up and speak out about issues that support or compromise your values,” says Cynda Hylton Rushton, PhD, RN, FAAN, Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics at the Berman Institute of Bioethics/School of Nursing and a professor of nursing and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University. “Without this clarity, your responses may be reactive, unreflective and potentially damaging to you and to others.”

Live your values

Just knowing your values and ethics isn’t enough, Rushton says. “We are required to speak them and live them in our daily actions. This takes courage, wisdom and resilience. Living our values means that we have to take seriously the fifth provision of the ANA Code of Ethics — our obligation to care for ourselves so that we can care for others.” Because ethical issues are part of everyday nursing practice, every nurse has an obligation to have the knowledge, skills and abilities to recognize and address them.

Listen to your gut

If you know yourself and are consistent about living your values, you’ll be able to rely on that voice inside your head saying something is wrong. “One of the things I talk to my students about all the time is that you need to listen to your gut,” says Sarah Shannon, PhD, RN, associate professor of biobehavioral nursing and health systems at the University of Washington School of Nursing and adjunct associate professor of bioethics and humanities at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Check in with others

Having said that, Shannon says it’s important to remember that the gut is “a great barometer but a lousy compass.” Just because you know you’re in an ethical quandary doesn’t mean you know what the next step is. Consult with others, such as your shift manager or head of nursing, when a sticky ethical situation arises.

Translating ethical decision-making into everyday nursing practice is challenging.  Building a network of colleagues who can help you think through ethical situations is priceless resource.  A great place to connect with experts and building your network is the 2015 ANA Ethics Symposium being held in Baltimore, MD June 4-5.  

Brook no disrespect

The first provision of the revised Code of Ethics for Nurses highlights each nurse’s responsibility to practice with “respect for the inherent dignity, worth, unique attributes and human rights of all individuals,” points out Carol Taylor, PhD, RN, professor of nursing at Georgetown University and senior clinical scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. Upholding that worth can provide a foundation for ethical action.

“Taken seriously, this means that each of us must practice with zero tolerance for disrespect, for our patients, their family members, our colleagues and ourselves.” Taylor recommends practicing responding to a colleague who describes a patient in negative terms to make it easier to speak up next time, such as by saying, “I’m no goody two-shoes, but I’m trying hard to meet each patient with respect.” If disrespect is a widespread problem, huddle and call attention to your organization’s zero-tolerance policy for disrespect to empower everyone to bring quick attention to violations.

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